Dear Friends and Family,
- Would you contribute to my ministry trip? I’m going to the Philippines this summer.
- I need to raise $1500 to go to Afghanistan.
- My church is sending a team to the Dominican Republic to build a church building—can you help?
Yup, the letters are arriving right on schedule, as both teens and older adults are making their plans and raising prayer and financial support. We always set some money aside in our giving budget to support these short term mission efforts, partly because we believe they will make a difference in the area where they will be working, and largely because it is a life-changing experience for the fledgling missionary. There is a vast gap between hearing about the world and seeing it with your own eyes.
I thought that our daughter, Karin, could explain all this better than I ever could, since she is the veteran of numerous short-term trips. Here are her thoughts:
This year, two of my friends are departing to the other side of the world to spread the good news about Jesus Christ! Devon is heading to Israel for a month where she will work with a Global Expeditions (part of Teen Mania) group to witness to the diverse population there. Shawn is also heading out with Global Expeditions, but is instead heading to India for a month. I am so excited to see how God will work in their (and others’) lives on these trips!
You probably know of one or more people heading out this summer on short-term missions trips. These youth and adults are in for the experience of a lifetime, and they need our help to get there! Prayer is their number one need, but in addition, financial support is always appreciated. Why are short-term missions so important to support, you ask? Let me share my own experiences…
I have gone on quite a few missions trips, to Mexico (1997), Alaska (1998), and even Nepal (2000). During these trips, God truly worked in my life in ways that one would least expect. The primary purpose of taking a missions trip is spreading the Gospel, as God commands us to do in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This is such an important task that God has given us Christians!
There are many ways to witness: talking and forming relationships with people, handing out tracks, street evangelism, and teaching are just a few. On each of the trips that I took, my team and I put together a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for the local children. Presenting the Gospel to local children is so important. They are eager to open their hearts to the Lord, and kids often understand His love easier than adults. Many times they go home and share God’s love with their care-takers as well. Whole communities have been transformed by children coming to know Christ.
Another very important way to share God’s love is by serving. In Alaska we cleared underbrush, painted buildings, and even washed cars. On the Mexico trip, we built a house in Ciudad Juarez for a family who was living in the slums. To us it was just a week of hammering and stuccoing, but to the family, it was safety and a new start on life. When strangers come and just serve, others want to know why they would do such a thing, leading to opportunities to share about Jesus.
God has also called us to pray. Prayer is so powerful, it is hard for us to comprehend. God wants us to talk to Him and ask. In Nepal we went to a leprosy hospital and prayed for the patients there. Several weeks later, my friend and I went back to visit (after the rest of our group had gone home) and God had healed several of the patients! What a miracle!! We had also prayed over several temples and a Tibetan refugee camp… it makes me wonder how God has transformed the people there as well!
Through those experiences, God was able to use me to help those communities and bring people to Christ. But besides that, He changed me. When you see others with practically nothing, worshiping and praising God for his love and care, it makes you realize how unimportant material items are compared with a relationship with Jesus. Items can be good tools to help others’ living situations and to make life easier, but what is really important in this world? Why are we here? To praise the Lord and spread the Good News! So as this summer approaches and you start to receive letters from friends who are venturing out to serve, pray and support them, because God is at work, transforming their lives.
If you feel God leading you to serve on a short-term missions trip, check with your church to see if any trips are planned, or consider these wonderful organizations that can help you on your way: Youth With A Mission, Global Expeditions.